Parkland police stress safety for campus

Brianne Jones

Staff Writer

In the wake of a recent shooting in Champaign, a renewed urgency towards safety on Parkland’s campus has taken hold and Public Safety says they are ready to take on any emergency situation at hand.

On Sept. 25, a 22-year-old man from the Chicago suburb of Mundelein was in the wrong place at the very wrong time—shot in the crossfire during a fight just outside the University of Illinois’ campus, between Third Street and Fourth Street in Champaign. He subsequently died of his injuries.

In the aftermath of the shooting, student and employee alerts went out to warn the university’s community members to avoid Green Street and stay indoors. Social media and other online and text-enabled alerts have served to inform a greater population much faster.

Recently, Parkland switched to a new alert system from company Alertus Technologies. According to the Director of Public Safety William Colbrook, the new system is more functional and user friendly than the old one. The system works to show notification screens and icons on all Parkland devices and send out any emergency information when necessary.

The new system, unlike its old counterpart, draws student and employee information from several databases instead of being an opt-in. This insures the entire Parkland community receives the emergency information needed in a crisis without anyone falling through the cracks.

“It’s impossible to get everyone to opt-in,” Colbrook says.

The Parkland Alert Notification system conducts a test once a semester in three formats: email, text, and voice. The last test was conducted on Sept. 30. The system sends information not only about crime-related crises, but also natural disasters and weather related risks.Public Safety also has on staff two crime investigators and a member of a local county special weapons and tactics team.

Also, since moving into their new office located in A160, Public Safety says they are more capable of meeting the needs of their clientele. Other updates include speakers and strategically placed alarm panels with microphones in which Parkland police can deliver critical messages regarding an incident.

Despite the improved capabilities, Colbrook reminds Parkland-goers of the difficulty of protecting each and every person individually.

“We are safer as a group,” Colbrook said. “If you hear something, say something. If you see something, say something.”

Colbrook says it is Public Safety’s job to investigate reports in order to prevent anything potentially dangerous from truly becoming dangerous.

“It’s what we get paid for,” he said.

Colbrook also recommends having a plan in the event of an emergency. Colbrook encourages every student to take five minutes to make a plan for what they will do in such a situation—locate emergency exists and the safest places to be during an earthquake or tornado and inform oneself on evacuation procedures.